LSU has suspended Head Basketball Coach Will Wade after a transcript between he and Christian Dawkins has surfaced. During his suspension, Assistant Coach Tony Benford will serve as interim head coach.
Dawkins is known as a basketball middleman and it seems as though he was involved with Wade in offering money to Freshman Javonte Smart in June of 2017. Smart has had much impact for the team this year, most notably leading the team to a victory over #5 Tennessee by scoring 29 points.
In the wire-tapped transcript Wade tells Dawkins, "Dude, I went to him with a (expletive deleted) strong offer about a month ago. I know why he didn't take it now. It was tilted toward taking care of his mom (Melinda Smart), I know now, he didn't get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal."
Smart's mother, Melinda Smart, claims she knows nothing about the deal as she told the Baton Rouge advocate, "I don't know anything about all of that."
Wade also tells Dawkins, "I was thinking of this Smart thing last night. It was a hell of an offer. Hell of an offer."
LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva have released a joint statement that reads,
"Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to all of us. As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address this situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.
All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim head coach."
Will Wade mentioned that he is paying little attention to the controversy and more attention to his thriving team. Emmitt Williams, Skylar Mays and Tremont Waters also commented on it, labeling it as a "distraction".
All of this comes right before the Tigers final regular season game against Vanderbilt. Tigers defeated the Commodores 80-59 to clinch the SEC regular season title.
On the morning of March 14, suspended coach Will Wade released a statement through Sports Illustrated requesting to be reinstated for the SEC Tournament this week in Nashville.
Wade was initially suspended as a result of a meeting that he did not attend. Wade said his legal council advised him not to speak to university officials.
The university said Wade will remain suspended until he meets with LSU officials.
Freshman guard Javonte Smart's status is still unclear for the coming weekend.